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Pursuing Breakthrough Success for Every Student

Equity without excellence is mediocrity. Excellence without equity is elitism. Schools that pursue breakthrough success for every student are schools that prioritize equity and  excellence.

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Building excellent and equitable schools is an ongoing, iterative process of evaluation and action aimed at busting barriers to success and building vibrant cultures of belonging.

Pelham City Schools (PCS) is an example of one of GLISI’s many partners doing this work. PCS has leveraged Base Camp and Leadership Summit as an integral part of their school improvement strategy since 2014.

Learn more about BCLS and Pelham’s systemic approach through their story.

Each year, those who attend BCLS take on a formal role as part of the district’s leadership team. That team ensures the plans they make at the mountain don’t stay at the mountain, but are leveraged to build on the progress made by the prior year’s leadership team.

The persistence and commitment of PCS team members are paying off: outcomes are improving in the specific areas PCS teams targeted for improvement.

Percent of Students on or above grade level in reading

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Percent of Students Developing Learner & Above in Math

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"I don't believe there is a quick fix to leadership. I think developing leaders in a school district is a process, not an action. You can't just send a group this year and think it's going to be fixed."

FLOYD FORT

Superintendent | Pelham City Schools

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In FY19, we revamped Base Camp and Leadership Summit to include time and support for equity dialog.

Armed with a group of talented facilitators and coaches, the conviction that equity conversations are essential to realizing our vision, and the belief that participants would recognize the need to engage, we stepped boldly into a critical design shift.

The results? "Importance of team conversation" was among the highest rated design element by Base Camp and Leadership Summit participants.

Starting equity conversations, sometimes uncomfortable, is a critical first step in addressing inequitable outcomes and eliminating the predictability of race, geography and family income as determinants of student destiny.

"When the conversation began regarding equity and experience, I was humbled and became painfully aware of my privilege as people in the room began to share their leadership stories. The conversation didn't stop that day, and neither did my curiosities. The reality that I was confronted with—that I carry privilege as a white woman—has changed my life and how I feel about leadership"

MICHAELA HICKS

Paulding County School District | Aspiring Leaders Graduate

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Organizational and individual excellence cannot be achieved without a sincere and intentional commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Attention to and respect for DEI requires districts to determine how culture, climate, policies, dispositions and practices affect people differently. In FY19, we completed a partnership with Forsyth County Schools designed to help district, school and community members better understand these differences and to address them in a customized, responsive DEI plan.

What's next for GLISI? We will complete similar work in Paulding County School District in FY20. We will also integrate equity as a core concept in our leadership development partnerships, knowing that attention to and respect for DEI starts with leadership.

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“We want our students and staff to have a high level of cultural understanding so that they can understand the diverse needs of the community, create a diverse environment for our students and make it equitable too.”

Jennifer Caracciolo  | Director of Communications Forsyth County Schools

*Quote found in article by Kathleen Sturgeon of Appen Media Group, March 2019.